The National Schools Competitions

In 1970, a group of national school teachers from within County Galway who were committed to the promotion and development of Gaelic games within the primary schools, founded Coiste na mBunscol for the purpose of organising football competitions for primary schools in Galway City and surrounding parishes.   Four separate leagues were begun because of the variation in school sizes:  9-a-side, 11-a-side, 13-a-side and 15-a-side, catering for eighteen schools.  One year later, the Coiste affiliated with Bord Náisiúnta CLG na mBunscol, and by the mid seventies a vibrant competitive scene had become well established in and around the City of the Tribes.  The Connacht Tribune carried regular reports of the various finals with accompanying photographs of many of the teams involved.  By the end of the decade however, these competitive structures had lapsed, and it was left to Coiste Peil na nÓg to initiate a revival in the early eighties.

At the Annual General Meeting of Coiste Peil na nÓg in October 1982, several Club Delegates voiced the opinion that a County Primary Schools League should be set up in an effort to improve and promote Gaelic Football at under-age level within the county.  The following Schools’ Inspectors, Principals and Teachers were invited to a meeting to discuss the matter and seek their advice; Tom Cunningham, Jimmy Halliday, Tom Cloonan, Liam Mannion, Dominic Burke, Aidan Nicholson, Anthony Broderick, Séan Ó Flatharta and Brother Robert.  All were in favour of the idea and offered their opinions and advice on how the leagues should be set up.  The organising of the competitions was then entrusted to the Assistant Secretary of the Coiste, Seamus O’Grady.

All two hundred and fifty National Schools in the county were notified of the proposed leagues and were invited to participate.  The response was magnificent, with over fifty per cent requesting to be included.  Affiliations were received from the four corners of the county from both the very large schools to the very small ones.  In an attempt to give every school a fair chance to compete, five different divisions were arranged.  (This increased to seven in later years).  The divisions were constituted as follows:  15-a-side (Town and City large schools): 15-a-side (Rural) 11-a-side: 9-a-side and 7-a-side. (a  13-a-side and a second 7-a-side were added in later years).

The first finals were played in Pearse Stadium on Saturday June 18th 1983.  An attractive Programme, kindly sponsored and printed by the Tuam Herald Newspaper Ltd., was produced for the occasion.  A number of firms and individuals were approached regarding sponsorship and the following responded to the call and provided either a perpetual shield or trophy for the winners of the various divisions and individual plaques for the panel members.  15-a-side (Town and City large schools) Galway Milk Company, Renmore; Galway 15-a-side (Rural) Tuam Dairies, Tuam; 11-a-side John Donnellon TD, Dunmore; 9-a-side Galway Trustee Savings Bank, Prospect Hill, Galway; 7-a-side St Jarlath’s Credit Union, Tuam.

These leagues continued to be organised in this format by Coiste Peil na nOg for twelve years (1983 to 1994) with each year’s competition (particularly the finals days) providing great excitement and entertainment for the participating schools.  In 1995 it was decided to embrace all National Schools Competitions under the umbrella of Cumann na mBunscol and since then they have re-structured the competitions and have been doing, and continue to do, outstanding work with the schools.


Coiste Peil na nÓg Souvenir Booklet 2006